SPRINGFIELD — More than 900 fourth grade students from Sangamon County are participating in the 24th Annual Earth Stewardship Day at the Illinois State Fairgrounds today. This year’s event is hosted and jointly sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Transportation and the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District.
During the event, which runs from 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., students and their teachers are observing almost 40 interactive presentations and other special attractions. The various presenters represent a wide range of agencies and organizations, all focusing on the importance of protecting, restoring, recycling and reusing natural resources. In keeping with the focus on stewardship, students and teachers were asked to bring “waste-free” lunches and beverages for the event.
“Through Earth Stewardship Day, we are able to work with these young students to highlight importance of conservation and protecting our environment,” said Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett. “Thank you to the volunteers from many agencies, who are making today such a success. The presentations today are fun and interactive, allowing students to learn through hands-on activities.”
Illinois EPA employees are staffing four stations, including Environmental Jeopardy. In this interactive game, student volunteers compete against the clock and each other in an effort to correctly answer various environmental questions. The first team of students to come up with the correct answer is awarded points while the contestants who did not get the correct answer or did not answer quickly, get “trashed.” Other Illinois EPA stations included Macroinvertebrate Mayhem, Toxic Relay, and the Groundwater Flow Model.
“As farmers, we are stewards of the land and soil,” said Director Philip Nelson with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “We are always looking to conserve and preserve the land so we can continue to hand off the family farm to future generations. Events like these, on Earth Stewardship Day, allow state agencies to work together to teach our youth about the importance of conservation and the impact it can have on our Earth.”
Special presenters also include environmental storytellers Brian “Fox” Ellis, of Fox Tales International in Peoria who is nationally renowned. Another special presenter is Joe Hand with the Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria presenting his Illinois Birds of Prey. Other special presentations included this year are the Global Warming-Save the Polar Bears created by Springfield’s Grant Middle School’s Illinois Math and Science Academy class, Say No to Pollution created by the Auburn High School Science Club, and six presentations are led by the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Introduction to Environmental Education course.
This annual celebration of environmental protection and conservation is free and open to the first 900 students whose schools registered, depending on the number of presenters, with preference given to those schools that have not attended in the past year. More information can be found at http://www.epa.illinois.gov/topics/education/earth-stewardship-day/index.